Sunday, January 15, 2006

orthodontia (braces)

Until recent years, orthodontists believed that anyone past adolescence was not a good candidate for braces. It was believed that teeth could only move within developing bone. Today, adults make up 20 percent to 30 percent of all orthodontic patients. Some are even as old as 70 years of age.
The most common problem of adults is overcrowding complicated by loss of teeth. People who cannot floss between their teeth are prime candidates for cavities, periodontal disease, and loss of teeth. A few years ago, this loss of teeth and resultant need for dentures was considered the price of a long life. But today, following the loss of a tooth, orthodontic treatment may enable the person to save their remaining teeth for the rest of their life.
Technological advances have eliminated the heavy metal wires and brackets of the past except in the most difficult cases. Research in space age metallurgy has developed ultrathin wires that move teeth more efficiently. These wires are lighter and more resilient and patients experience less discomfort when they are tightened during treatment. But even more appealing is the cosmetic effect. Today's appliances are nearly invisible.
Although age itself is no deterrent to orthodontic success, the teeth, gums, and bone structure must be reasonably healthy before treatment can begin. Orthodontia cannot help anyone who has suffered major bone loss of the jaw.
With so much emphasis placed on appearances in today's lifestyles more and more adults are turning to orthodontia.
Peake, J. "Braces-At My Age!" Modern Maturity. Aug.-Sept., 1987.

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